Lord of the Rings Online Update 6 Preview

New Mechanics

The most exciting mechanical update to LotRO in Update 6 is the introduction of randomization to NPCs. Rather than stock the wilds of Middle Earth with numerous enemies who all look the same, Turbine has created an engine that randomizes the look and feel of these NPCs. Minor changes such as different hair styles and colors, different clothing styles and colors, and even different facial hair help make the world more believable. This tech is being implemented on all the Update 6 content, and is planned to be retroactively applied to older content as well.

Remember in Update 5 when Turbine introduced a ‘basic’ instance finder? Well, they’ve improved on it substantially. First, they’ve added the ability to select specific instances. Secondly, the tool now allows you to join any instance at any level. As in Update 5, you’ll gain bonuses when you choose an instance randomly. It will also fill any vacancies in your party with the appropriate type of characters who are looking to run something. If you need a healer or a tank, you’ll get what you need. It’s a tool that many MMOs are now offering, and one that Turbine almost has to include to keep pace.

The instance finder isn’t the end of the updates to game mechanics. Turbine is also introducing the ability for players to use their skirmish soldiers anywhere in the outside world. That means if you’re up against a tough challenge, you can pull out your skirmish soldier to help tip the scales in your favor. Of course, this ability does have a caveat – you’ll need tokens to use it. Each token will grant you an hour’s usage of your skirmish soldier, and that time is only consumed when the soldier is active. Tokens can be purchased using skirmish currency, or they can be acquired through the LotRO Store.

One small mechanical change that players may really appreciate is an enhanced tooltip for enemies. When you have a quest that require killing mobs to complete, the tooltip of the mobs you need to eradicate will show the quest and your current progress on it. It seems like a minor change, but it can be a godsend when you’re trying to make sure you’re striking down the right wolves to get the pelts you need.

The last new mechanic in Update 6 is one that’s being hotly debated on the LotRO forums right now – the Premium Wallet. The Premium Wallet upgrade will cost players 995 Turbine Points, and will allow all of the characters on their account to store barter items like festival tokens and reputation items in a wallet rather than consuming bag space for them. There’s also a change being introduced where Marks, Medallions, Seals and Relic currency will now be bound to account, instead of character. As before, all of these currencies will appear in the wallet. Since the cost of a 15 slot storage upgrade is 495 Turbine Points per character, you can bet that the majority of LotRO players will jump at the chance to free up inventory spots on all their characters for only 995 points.

Update 6 is shaping up to be another quality addition to Turbine’s sprawling, free-to-play MMO. The locales in this update should be more easily recognized by players, and as we draw nearer to Rohan, I can’t help but dream about what Helm’s Deep is going to be like. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. While you’re waiting, here a bundle of shots from the in-game demo we checked out earlier this week. Enjoy!

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